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Queer notions: How Christian homophobes misuse my “gay gene” report

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


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2004 gay-marriage march in San FranciscoGood news is rare these days, so I’d like to take a moment to celebrate last week’s decision by a federal judge that Proposition 8, California’s ban on same-sex marriage, is unconstitutional.

That’s the news hook for my main topic: the misuse of my writings by religious fundamentalists. To my dismay, some Christians embraced The End of Science, which they misinterpreted as an endorsement of religious explanations of existence. When Christian radio talk show hosts had me on their programs, I had fun setting them straight. I told them that the only theology I find compelling is one in which God suffers from multiple personality disorder. (If you’re curious, check out the epilogue of The End of Science, "The Terror of God.")

And speaking of setting straight, Christian homophobes have misused my writings on the biology of homosexuality, particularly "Gay Genes, Revisited," published in Scientific American in November 1995. In it I reported on weaknesses in the claims of scientists—and particularly the geneticist Dean Hamer, "discoverer" of the "gay gene"—that homosexuality has a genetic basis. (I’ve continued beating up on Hamer over the years for exaggerating the links between specific genes and behaviors; see for example this essay.)

Anti-gay Christians cite "Gay Genes, Revisited" to make the case that homosexuality is not hardwired; people with homosexual inclinations can change their behavior and even minds through therapeutic interventions. See, for example, the references to "Gay Genes, Revisited" on these Mormon and Catholic sites.

A few points: First, being a good tolerant liberal, of course I support gay rights—including the right to marry. Why shouldn’t gay couples share the misery of us straights? Second, I can think of no dumber reason for doing or not doing something than what the Bible supposedly says. Third, I suspect that homosexuality is probably at least in part innate, even though the evidence so far is flimsy.

But I also see human sexuality as much too complicated, diverse and mutable to be explained in simple biological terms. Although some gay activists insist that a bisexual is really just a homosexual in denial, bisexuality is clearly a genuine phenomenon.

My views have been shaped by two of my best friends, whom I’ll call Dick and Jane. They consider themselves bisexual. Each had been in both straight and gay relationships before they met and fell in love 20 years ago. They’ve been happily married now for 12 years, and everyone who knows them thinks they’re a great match. This may sound sappy, but to my mind their love for each other as individuals transcends categories as crude as heterosexual, homosexual or bisexual.

I asked Jane and Dick—who are both computer scientists—to e-mail me their thoughts on the genetics of sexuality. Here are their responses, beginning with Jane’s:

From Jane: It wouldn’t surprise me if there was some biological basis for homo- or bi-sexuality. But I agree that the entirety of human sexual experience is probably too complex to be attributable to one physical factor. On one end of the spectrum, there’s pure physical attraction; on the other end is the fullness of a long-term relationship. If biology plays a part, I imagine it’s at the initial attraction phase. (What attracts me to a man or a woman? I’m not attracted to all men or all women. And the people I’m drawn to have very different qualities, so I can’t really make a list. The attraction is just…there. I’m prepared to believe that it could be hardwired.) But after that, if you want to be in a relationship with the person, there’s a lot of social, psychological and behavioral factors at play. If my relationship with Dick transcends labels, it’s probably because it works for a bunch of different reasons. Yeah, there’s the basic physical attraction (he’s cute!), but he’s also incredibly kind and smart and it turns out that we’re super compatible. (There just aren’t that many things about him that bug me and—incredibly—vice versa. But match either of us up with a different person and you could have a volatile reaction.) So we had some chemistry initially, and some luck. And years of getting along with someone who makes you happy makes you want to stay with them (and keep having sex with them!). Biological? Social? It really doesn’t matter to me at all!

From Dick: The notion of a "gay gene" disturbs me in two unhappily familiar ways. First, it reinforces the common and simplistic notion that people belong to one of two "teams." Such thinking denies the experience of people like me and Jane and millions of others like us; it would be merely annoying if it weren’t for the hurt it can cause. Bi teenagers feel pressure to choose sides, bi adults hear from gays that they’re in denial, and much dialogue about sexuality is unnecessarily polarized. It’s politically very convenient for gay activists, Christian fundamentalists and social conservatives to put everything in "us versus them" terms, but sexuality is much more fluid than that. Second, it is just one more tiresome example of genetic absolutism—not that scientists subscribe to this, but everyone else seems to. To deny that environment, upbringing, friendship or chance have any significant role in shaping an individual’s development is simply pernicious. Granted, it’s extremely likely that fully developed adults are unable to change their orientation (even despite the best efforts of those bigots who try to "convert" self-hating homosexuals), but this doesn’t imply that the development itself was entirely predetermined. Again, though, it’s very convenient for many people to pretend otherwise. I’m talking about the general population and the popular news media here. Naturally, researchers in the field have a much deeper and nuanced perspective, but subtlety and detail always get lost in transmission from experts to laymen. We’re also dealing with a lot of prejudice, religious programming and scientific illiteracy. Personally, I can’t believe that bisexuality is still an uncommon notion after all these years or that so many people think that everything is innate. It’s not that ignorance of scientific facts is by itself evil. (How many of us can give the chemical composition of aspirin?) It’s that, as John has shown above, it is wielded to bad ends. In the end, if it’s not your area of research it shouldn’t matter. It would seem elementary that how you treat people should not depend on their sexuality or where it came from.

Image: A march held in support of gay marriage, in San Francisco in 2004; courtesy of Wikimedia Commons





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  1. 1. quincykim 12:36 pm 08/9/2010

    I admit I never really gave bisexuality much thought. I accepted the "gay gene" idea pretty readily, mostly because the "It’s a choice, and an immoral one at that" argument doesn’t square with what I’ve learned from having gay friends. This article brings a credible and welcome new (to me) perspective on sexuality in general.

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  2. 2. ildenizen 1:22 pm 08/9/2010

    I think whether this is genetic (and if so most certainly incorporates large number of genetic traits), environmental, or a combination is beside the point.
    A literal bible believing christian may have a harder time dovetailing his or her beliefs if the behavior is completely genetic, as that to some degree places the blame on their god. But it would then move to the thinking that they are somehow defective, like other genetic disorders.
    A closed mind is harder to change than one’s sexuality.

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  3. 3. OneEye 1:26 pm 08/9/2010

    Thundering liberal pontification, Batman! I’m so glad we have the John Horgan’s of the world to tell us what is "dumb" when it comes to setting one’s moral compass! I will be sure to apply to Mr. Horgan for all of my moral authorizations in the future!

    The fact is that the "gay gene" was (and still is) a popular meme used to dispute the idea that homosexuality ought to come under moral scrutiny. Without a gay gene – that is, without some proof that homosexuality is hardwired – then homosexuality does, indeed, come under moral scrutiny – as does ever other sexual behavior – including heterosexual behaviors! (And what moral authority WOULD you have us look to, Mr. Horgan?)

    In fact, the moral scrutiny of homosexuality would apply even IF it turned out to have some "innate" component – just as heterosexuality does. Every human foible, failing, and corruption is innate. This does nothing to answer the moral questions.

    This is a vapid and evasive analysis which only harms a legitimate debate. I wish that Mr. Horgan "hammer" himself as hard as he has Dr. Hamer.

    Mr. Horgan, your arguments DO give aid and comfort to those people who claim that homosexuality is morally questionable. I just wish that you would get comfortable with that fact!

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  4. 4. rshoff 1:41 pm 08/9/2010

    I firmly believe that sexual identity genes do exist. I believe that they interact with environment that result in a sexuality spectrum. Gay on one end, straight on the other, and variations of Bi the great big in-between. I’m gay, and there is no possibility that I could be either bisexual or straight. None. However, I truly believe bisexuals exist. I wish that people would let them ‘be’ and stop identifying them with me. They are not gay, and I am not bi. They are not straight, and neither am I. And straight people should be left alone as well. Straights are neither bi nor gay. Anyone can pretend to be anywhere on that spectrum, but until we can accept each other and ourselves as we are then the pretending will have to continue.

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  5. 5. ildenizen 1:42 pm 08/9/2010

    Oneye – if this IS a moral issue, whose moral compass would you like to use? A fundamental christian’s, a unitarian’s, a hindu’s or atheist’s? Their moral compass as regards homosexuality is all over the map. I think THAT is the problem – a moral compass is personal, and should not be foisted on another.
    There are very few moral absolutes, and I would pose that of these, they all begin with respect.
    Thanks for clarifying your underlying Puritan position, that homosexuality is a corruption, foible or failing. Along with almost all other sexual expressons.

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  6. 6. sonoran 1:47 pm 08/9/2010

    "Morality" itself is just a behavioral mechanism used by animals that live together in social groups. It’s not enforced by any "God(s)" or the Universe (or even sillier, by quantum mechanics). It doesn’t extend beyond our brains.

    Morality that excoriates people for behavior that is otherwise part of the natural range of human behavior is only justified if stifling that behavior benefits society.

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  7. 7. rshoff 1:52 pm 08/9/2010

    I also believe that the reason ‘bisexuality’ is overlooked is because our culture has ‘officially’ viewed sexuality as ‘straight’ being the ‘norm’. Anyone operating outside of that norm was relegated to ‘gay’ (or inferior, not straight). It’s a shame that we can’t see that there is no ‘norm’. Just a bell curve. And to the extreme straights that think they are in the middle, I’m sorry to inform you, it’s the bis in the middle of the bell, with straights and gays both being the outliers. Therefore, if there must be a ‘norm’, it would be the ‘Bi-sexuals’, not the straights.

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  8. 8. DiscomBob 2:54 pm 08/9/2010

    Well, being ‘straight’ is the norm as it is the only one with an actual purpose (reproduction), but folks should definitely do with other consenting adults as they see fit.

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  9. 9. SeaGypsy 3:39 pm 08/9/2010

    John (and Dick & Jane) I just have to say a huge THANK YOU for this article!!! I am bisexual, and have known it since the 4th grade, when I had no idea what my attractions to both sexes meant. I ignored my "gay side" for many years (I jokingly call myself 1/2 gay). I have been out as bi for nearly 18 years now, and have absolutely NO doubt that I am not gay NOR straight, and have no doubt after all this time that bisexuality indeed "exists". I prefer Kinsey’s way of looking at it – shades of gray. Or should I say shades of gay? :) (sorry – I love bad puns).

    The big question I have is why does homo, hetero, or bi-sexuality have to be a moral issue? We are what we are, and I wish the christians would stop sticking their noses in our business.

    And to rshoff – love the concept of a bell curve, but honestly, I think it’s more of an inverted bell-curve. More on either end, but plenty in the middle too!

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  10. 10. Delafina 4:30 pm 08/9/2010

    I highly recommend "Sexual Fluidity: Understanding Women’s Love and Desire" by Lisa Diamond. While the focus is on female sexuality, it has quite a few interesting things to say about men as well. However, and most importantly, it argues compellingly that labels such as "bisexual," "straight," and "gay" may be meaningless for many individuals, and that the debate over nature vs. nurture is pointless simply because of the complexity of human sexuality. (For example, she points out how the sexual orientation of someone’s physical relationships may differ from their attractions which may differ from their fantasies. Which is their "real" sexuality?)

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  11. 11. tichead 9:56 pm 08/9/2010

    "judge not, lest ye be judged". Had to put a bit of "right back at ‘ya" in this discussion.

    I could never figue out why one aspect of human endeavor, in this case sexuality, should define the entire person to others. But, then again, I’m slow to understand things. Will God smite me for my lack of sentience? I expect that would have happened by now if was going to happen at all.

    The ice caps are melting, genetically modified plants are running amok, corporate greed is spoiling our dinner plates, our children can’t read, write, calculate, or have access to fine art, dictators, drug lords, and extremists are slaughtering the innocent dissenters, species are in the sixth great extinction from our decisions and actions, and someone wants to care about MY soul?

    What I do for love is not only the sole (soul?) domain of me and the ones I chose to express it with, but it is one the few beautiful events left for humans to enjoy. Okay, there IS beer.

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  12. 12. lolitsadam 11:28 pm 08/9/2010

    I think it’s fair to say that genes do likely play a significant role. There are more than likely other biological factors that do play a role (though people usually tend to assume that means hormonal, and I’m not aware of anything that suggests hormones to determine it). I think what’s been discovered about the structure of the brain in gay vs straight counterparts has been thoroughly convincing that it’s immutable and clearly biological. I’m not aware of any conclusive studies about bisexuality, though.

    As humans, though, we also have social factors to consider – but they don’t actually determine our sexual orientation, I think that’s squarely which sex you are attracted to sexually (and I think it’s fallacious to say you couldn’t be in a relationship with someone you find sexually attractive for external reasons – it’s still your sexuality).

    I really do think anyone has potential to be attracted – to sexual function – to/with either sex, but, of course, not all individuals of both, and obviously with widely varying degrees among individuals. I think the overwhelming majority, though, seems to be overwhelmingly monosexual.

    I also think it’s kind of silly that these Christian homophobes even try to use these arguments. The vast majority don’t even seem to be remotely scientifically-literate.

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  13. 13. lolitsadam 11:30 pm 08/9/2010

    damn that was badly written. o whale.

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  14. 14. tichead 12:31 am 08/10/2010

    Have another beer! We got ya. I have a few posts with that exxact same poplem…

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  15. 15. loveslawyerjokes 11:11 am 08/10/2010

    There is one reason why the ancient jews made homosexuality a sin…homos don’t have kids. In their world numbers mattered. Homosexuality has been around for a long time. Unchecked population growth is a relatively new problem. Religion keeps people from learning how to live together. In my atheist world there are only 2 kinds of people.
    Cool people and uncool people. OneEye is definitely not cool.

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  16. 16. Dane 4:51 pm 08/10/2010

    Sir with all respect you are a Fool to disregard the Bible! It has proven itself for centuries! Jesus is a historical fact and you will stand before him for your foolishness…thinking you are smarted than Jesus! WOW! When did you reach Deity Mr. Horgan?
    with respect and pity, Dane

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  17. 17. ormondotvos 5:11 pm 08/10/2010

    We set our moral compass by the magnetic poles of our social life. D’oh!

    We have to acknowledge evolution, we’re social animals, society has changed, we are evolving (or not, always remember that).

    Perhaps humanity will destroy itself through its hard-wired aggression and xenophobia before it CAN change.

    The church is an anchor, when we need to sail a course.

    God, of course, is a myth.

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  18. 18. ormondotvos 5:19 pm 08/10/2010

    Uh, Dane: Jesus was a single man who hung around with twelve guys, and prostitutes.”

    Jesus never said a word about homosexuality one way or the other.

    Of course, he DID say a few words about loving one another.

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  19. 19. John_Toradze 5:54 pm 08/10/2010

    Here we are, genetically roughly equidistant from chimpanzees and bonobos. The former beat up on the women, make a bit of war and when a female is in heat, most of them have at her. The latter rub genitals as greeting and generally act like hedonists who are mostly pretty peaceful.

    And then there’s us, people have the large ones.

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  20. 20. Reader5 6:18 pm 08/10/2010

    John, any chance you could update the article with specific examples of people mis-using your research? Thanks!

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  21. 21. ColleenHarper 8:05 pm 08/10/2010

    @DiscomBob
    "Well, being ‘straight’ is the norm as it is the only one with an actual purpose (reproduction), but folks should definitely do with other consenting adults as they see fit."
    So Sex has no social function, to bring two people together, to help them find joy in one another’s bodies, to hold their relationship through rough time and good? This is beginning to have the same absurd sound as marriage is only for procreation, therefore we can’t let any post-menopausal women marry, nor can we allow women who have had a hysterectomy marry, since in both cases they are no longer reproductive.
    Except for those wracked by the moral dilemma of "sin" (which I do NOT believe in), sex has much more "purpose" than mere reproduction. Let’s recognize that when you hopped in the back seat of your parents’ car with that first girl, you were NOT thinking "reproduction."

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  22. 22. jerryd 8:15 pm 08/10/2010

    Dane, the hate in your heart will preclude you from heaven. It’s not Jesus I fear, it’s his followers like you who have never really learned what Jesus really is about but use him to justify your hatred and hurt others.

    Back to the article. There are sexual genes undeniably but other influences like hormones and chemicals especially in the womb that can go astray. causing sexual differences. There really are few super females/males as I call them. Most of us are somewhere in between.

    Facts are a certain number of us ended up with female brains and male bodies and vice-versa. Some ended up with a mixture of both or neither either in the brain or body is an obvious fact, denying this just leads to big problems.

    If someone looks at a nice looking female and wants to kiss them, they are male, no matter their body make up and vice/versa. Some are in between and want to kiss either. They are bi.

    If God didn’t want this to happen, why did he make people that way?

    PS I’m straight.

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  23. 23. josedejuan 8:53 pm 08/10/2010

    @OneEye. The author doesn’t claim moral authority. He says only that doing something because the Bible says so is stupid. As in a dubious and ever malleable moral standard. And I agree.
    The author says homosexuality might be in part innate. He admits other factors might intervene to modify the behavior or broaden it. Moral scrutiny might apply to many variations of sexual behavior (promiscuity, celibacy, rape, pedophilia, contraception, etc…) where people either get harmed, harm themselves or even improve morally. But saying that homosexuality or bisexuality -regardless of source- is immoral for no reason or "better" than" heterosexuality holds no water. Fire both cooks and burns, it’s not the fire nature to change but the guy with the match.

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  24. 24. bongobimbo 9:23 pm 08/10/2010

    Aren’t bonobos, our closest primate relatives, frequently bisexual? And also many other animals? I’ve heard that amphibians can change from male to female when necessary. Can they change the other way? (That’s trans-sexual, though, not bi-.)

    If sexuality is so varied, it seems strange that some people are so concerned about how others practice it.

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  25. 25. jgrosay 4:05 am 08/11/2010

    Why are gays so concerned about getting an acknowledgement from the rest of mankind?. Do they feel guilty?. Some of them dare God, so they are believers, and know that most religions advise to refrain from same sex sex. If God exists, you better change your behaviour, if not, for what all that noise?

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  26. 26. jgrosay 4:08 am 08/11/2010

    Bonobos engage in both sexes petting, but seem not reaching orgasm or perform homosexual intercourse, it’s just a matter of arousal, not climax

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  27. 27. Marlene 9:23 pm 08/11/2010

    John — No matter how much you ask, the religious reicht will lie, mislead, twist, deceive, skew, and bear false witness as many times as possible anything they can get their perverted hands on in order to justify their delusion that their self-appointed piety is vastly superior to anything on earth.

    Their delusion is so deeply ingrained, there’s no way, shape, or form anyone can remove their delusion from perverting the legal and social advances society has gained over the decades.

    All you can do is possibly sue them for misrepresentation and fraudulently using your research for their nefarious ends.

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  28. 28. VixTor 5:02 pm 08/12/2010

    The most basic moral code is if it harms someone or seeks to restrict others from doing something that does not harm or restrict others then it is fundamentally immoral and yes this does make the views of a lot of fundamentalist religious bigots morally abhorrent, not just christians.

    I wonder if there is a genetic factor involved in bigotry, I can see distrust and hostility towards "outsiders" as being an out dated survival trait one we would do well to transcend.

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  29. 29. ColleenHarper 8:59 pm 08/12/2010

    @jgrosay
    It isn’t that gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgenders are seeking approval of other, or that we’re hoping that others will endorse our lives. We’re seeking protection from those who would do us harm, first physically and then within the social world.

    Are you one of those we must seek protection from or wish to deny us an equal share of the promises of life and our Constitution?

    Remember, Jesus commanded us to love the stranger next door. Commanded, as in He requires that you give them your loving commitment to see them as He saw them, that He died for them as well, just as they are. The only one with the right to judge according to the Bible, is God. That right is NOT granted to you.

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  30. 30. MikeJ 5:36 pm 08/13/2010

    In order to answer the question of what makes some people homosexual or bisexual, we must (first?) also ask what makes someone attracted to the opposite sex – heterosexual. I do not think this has been very well addressed, and until it is, it will not be possible to adequately address the question of why certain individuals differ from the "norm" (though we must also acknowledge that there is tremendous variability even within this "normal" category).

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  31. 31. tichead 12:41 am 08/14/2010

    "Why shouldn’t gay couples share the misery of us straights?"

    Mr. Hogan, please don’t impose YOUR ill concieved matrimony on this publican!

    Such words fairly resound of the "Christian homophobia" you so eloquently denounce. Brutus should have had such an audience as the vast and learn’d readership of Scientific American… only thence to dispatch the notorius Julius Ceasar. Should this subscriber be considered of the same company as Emperors? Whilst my exploits do pale in the shadow of such greatness, I am, I fear, none the less injured by your reckless word smithy. Hold forth with thy lofty theses, but spare this citizenry, be they publican or patrician, and who seek no more than equitable comfort, of such dire tidings whilst armies do besiege them.

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  32. 32. RedRoseAndy 1:50 am 08/14/2010

    The first Roman Emperor to become Christian was Gay, as was the Christian that converted him. Without this conversion Christianity would not have spread as far as it did. With homosexual politicians around the world there will always be work for homosexual Christians to do.

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  33. 33. John_Toradze 6:02 pm 08/14/2010

    Bonobos do have orgasms. It’s not just arousal and petting.
    http://www.primates.com/bonobos/bonobosexsoc.html

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  34. 34. dick214 11:12 pm 08/15/2010

    As a social psychologist I should like to state that homophobics, regardless their stripe or "reasoning" for their antipathy toward gay people, are far more homosexually inclined than those who are tolerant of homosexuals. They suffer from what is termed homosexual panic which emanates from the fears arising out of their own internal conflicts. The self-flagellate one way or another every time they sneak-a-peek in the men’s room. They are truly nasty, dangerous folks.

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  35. 35. jim33 1:26 pm 08/16/2010

    No doubt gays are somehow hardwired, as are we all. Ask yourself this(if you’re not bi): could I choose?

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  36. 36. dick214 2:20 pm 08/16/2010

    Yes, in fact you might. Prejudice would, of course, moderate depending on how profound your prejudice. Having spent many years with corrections in Illinois, I watched young people enter prison straight, operate inside as gay and, subsequently come out straight and repeating the process on new offenses. The argument might easily be that they were Axis II personality disorders, wherein gender choice is not particularly solid to begin with but this can’t be the case in all of the cases I’ve seen. Not all were Axis II in any sense. The need for intimate companionship is a powerful drive and becomes sexual, particularly with younger persons. Stories of two men on a deserted island engaging in homosexual acts and eventually returning to a heterosexual lifestyle afterwards, abound in literature and are not far fetched. We are utterly social creatures and that social drive trumps about anything. Frankly, I have little use for the terms hetero-, homo-, and bisexual as I think they are misleading. Nearly all of the antipathy toward homosexuality portrayed in the foregoing responses are the result of intense social pressure, bias and homophobic reactions. They are not of any realistic value to scientific inquiry. Whenever we who consider ourselves heterosexual find a member of our own sex in the least bit erotically attractive, our minds immediately engage in the most extraordinary gymnastics in order to rationalize the experience into something sufficiently palatable to prevent cognitive dissonance. Then we sail along quite happy with the contrived explanation. "He’s just a really great guy!"

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  37. 37. tantheman 9:15 pm 08/16/2010

    appreciate the thoughtful, level-headed discussion by jane and dick. too bad it was marred by typical condescending, elitist liberal trash from horgan. tolerant liberal? ha, an oxymoron. apparently tolerant to anyone except people who disagree with his ideas.

    "love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you." luke 6, words of jesus. who could ever think those were good ideas, huh?

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  38. 38. dick214 10:45 am 08/17/2010

    The statement, "The first Roman Emperor to become Christian was gay", is quite misleading. The Roman’s Hellenistic culture (springing from the Greeks) was quite bisexual. Athenian men, at a time of the height of their civilization, preferred to be seen in public with their latest youthful male acquisition, and this was in spite of their being married to women. This continued to a great degree with the Romans. Hence, it is impossible to ascribe a particular form of sexuality to a Roman, i.e., heterosexual, homosexual or bisexual. Norms trump everything, thus we cannot carry our cultural biases to other social systems either within our own time or before and draw conclusions out of those biases. Once again, it’s unscientific.

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  39. 39. eclipx 4:51 pm 08/17/2010

    The only difference between straight sex and gay sex is that straight sex can lead to reproduction. There is nothing wrong with two adult humans engaging in either straight or gay sex as long as it is consensual. If anyone is trying to argue against gay sex, just realize that if sex is strictly for reproduction then you better be reproducing every time to engage in it. Otherwise, get used to the idea that two people have sex to get closer to one another and share a part of themselves on a level that is not able to be accomplished in any other way. If your argument is religion-based… duh duh duh duuuuhhhh… we all don’t believe in your religion… so get used to THAT and stop trying to control everyone around you.

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  40. 40. marz62 6:42 pm 08/17/2010

    There may be no definitive gene (yet discovered) for homosexuality,or human sexuality in general (most likely, sexuality will be found to be the result of a genetic "mosaic")…but there is evidence that (female) homosexuality runs in familiar lineages (E.O. Wilson pointed this out in ‘On Human Nature’ decades ago)–a fact that may support the kin selection hypothesis (as to why homosexuality persists, though unions produce no off-spring, at least up until current times). Also, recent studies of the fa’a'fine people (men) of Borneo also lend support to this hypothesis.

    There is also a decided "phenotype" within the gay/lesbian populations, that is, a constellation of traits and attributes which signal that person’s inclusion in one or the other group (these traits are readily identifiable by members of these groups, and are referred to often in overt and veiled ways). Of course, variations on these phenotypes are plentiful. Bisexuals are perhaps best though of as a blend of such traits. But again, variations occur with fair frequency.

    But if and when such a genetic basis is found (and we know that environment affects gene expression via the epigenome), it will hardly support the idea that homosexuality is therefore a genetic "defect" of the "normal" (hetero) gene network/mosaic–anymore than red hair or blue eyes are considered "defects".

    As to the ‘Bell curve" (Gausian distribution): if you’re talking about sexuality, clearly, the middle (the bell part of the curve) will be where most of the heteros are clustered (around the mean), thus insuring enough reproductive activity to promote the survival of the species. But survival is not simply a matter of having children. It is also a matter of caring and providing and helping those children as the grow. The role of homosexuals in this biologically important task/mission has only recently come to light.

    More discoveries await

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  41. 41. dick214 9:03 pm 08/17/2010

    In spite of all of the discussion of genetics, which in my opinion is essentially mechanistic nonsense, human beings are both capable and prone to act out of either choice or impulse or both. We humans are not simple life forms whose genetics dictate their entire behavior over a brief and nearly two dimensional lifespan. We can be gay today and straight tomorrow. We can be quite homosexual as the result of a combination of genetics, impulse, desire and even a dare. During my teaching of both psychology and sociology I taught my students that on a scale of 1 to 10, with one being entirely homosexual and 10 being entirely heterosexual, no one in the classroom was either a 1 or a 10; and that over time they might very well wander up and down that scale between 2 and 8 for brief periods of time. And might linger at times around 4 to 6. Yet, the uniqueness of our psyches is such that it probably would not cause any internal alarm because of our ability to avoid cognitive dissonance by explaining away the discomfort of containing opposing beliefs or concepts. Many heterosexuals (probably predominately male) who have joined this debate with what they consider to be well thought out views in opposition to homosexuality are in all likelihood terrorized by their internal fears, much like George Costanza on the old Seinfeld television series. The truth of the matter is that homosexuality is normal in every sense of the word. Look at the world around you; there are no absolutes. No thing, no situation in life is utterly and absolutely one way. That somewhere between 10 and 13 percent of the population is predominately homosexual at any given time is a statement of the natural order of things. It would be entirely unnatural if their were no homosexuality. People differ and are different. In a Roman Catholic Church on Sunday morning there are no two people in that building who share the same beliefs. Why? Because they can’t. That’s why. That’s what it is to be human.

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  42. 42. CBargainer 6:26 pm 08/18/2010

    To me, the point most missed is that the legislature exists to debate and decide issues such as "gay marriage". We elect them, they are responsible to us, and their job is to decide how our society wants to live.

    It is NOT and NEVER HAS BEEN the job of judges to make these decisions. What limit is there to such judicial activism? The fact that society is so torn by this and so many other judicial rulings is a red flag that they are out of control. We are upset because we have lost our elected input into how we want to live.

    Let us decide what laws we want to have through our elected representatives. If we don’t, why do we have them?

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  43. 43. dick214 8:02 pm 08/18/2010

    CBargainer’s response is naive beyond imagination. We do not elect anyone, the media does according to amount of money spent by which candidate and the sheep vote accordingly. In important issues, Diebold decides. It is apparent from your response that your antipathy is toward liberal judges while the most severe judicial activism (at a near treason level) has been perpetrated by the fascist quintet on the Roberts court.

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  44. 44. loveslawyerjokes 11:03 pm 08/18/2010

    Very true Dick214…What CBargainer doesn’t understand (hasn’t been told by Rush and his gang) is that the Supreme Court is the check and balance, set up by the Constitution, to judge the constitutionality of laws penned by Congress. "Judicial Activism" is a term created by the far right to rally the sheep. But we must realize that religion is the highest hurdle for those of differing sexualities to overcome. Religion drives the politics, not only regarding sexuality, but also womens’ reproductive rights. I have enjoyed and been educated by your comments here.

    Re: an earlier comment by you…I don’t feel threatened by homosexuality and I accept it as a normal aspect of humanity. So I hope that I am tolerant in your view. But I have to admit that the thought of male homosexual sex does gross me out. Kind of like I love fresh spinach in a salad, but cooked spinach makes me barf. Enlightening comments please?

    Cheers!

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  45. 45. dick214 12:13 pm 08/19/2010

    loveslawyerjokes, You have essentially answered your own question: preferences are learned responses and explain one’s tastes in a very universal way. I was never able to convince my now deceased father that there are no "bad" smells and that odors are, in fact, neutral. (This of course does not include corrosives which are actually damaging tissues.) When we are tiny infants our mother’s orchestrate our revulsion toward the smell of feces and we grow into adults responding quite negatively toward the odor. In the sociology of odors we learn that telling someone that they are going to select from a group of exquisite cheeses, then asking them to briefly smell from opaque cones (one of which actually contains feces) they will ignore the feces and, perhaps, reject another more pungent cheese, e.g., limburger. I too, am put off by mental pictures of male homosexual acts but I know this is a learned response. Much of what puts we men off is the fear of the loss of "manliness" whatever that really is. I have know some gay men that I would never have wanted to tangle with or compete against in feats of physical prowess. So, it all comes down to myths of childhood or, better said, childish myths. That reactive child mind is still inside my head but I choose to overrule it with the educated adult mind. Hence, religion, etc., doesn’t get a seat at that table. Religion’s primary focus is on sex and they are consistently wrong. But religions too are sometimes able to attain a kind of maturity, e.g., the Quakers.

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  46. 46. Joseph C. Moore, Cpo USN Ret. 12:41 am 08/23/2010

    Has a "gay" gene really been discovered? Why has the word "gay" been co-opted by the homosexuals? Pathetic would be more appropriate for many. Marriage for "gays" ? Why is a religious term so important for secular people (and the government)? I don’t care how people want to live as long as they are not infringing on the well being of others and the government should not force me to subsidize behavior I find objectionable. Don’t call me a homophobe as I am definitely not as I have a few homosexual friends and do not feel that I have to approve of a specific life-style to be friends. The political correct pap we are being force fed is disingenuous.

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  47. 47. oldestgeek 4:49 pm 09/21/2010

    I don’t think there is a "queer gene" per se. I do think it is a side effect of our genetic makeup.

    If it’s a recessive (and useful) gene then it would be at least 5% as color blindness is in men. (Go hunting with a color blind guy and you’ll understand why.)

    How could a gene not be useful? If it is neutral but attached to something useful. Try wagging your tailbone or warming up by raising your fur.

    How does this apply to homosexuals? Gene mixing is how we survive so well. Mating has some apparent genetic basis for humans and occurs in the "falling in love" sequence, recognition, infatuation…. Who is attracted to whom is so varied that it is no surprise that some people end up attracted to the same sex and/or attractive to the same sex.

    It’s not a queer gene per se but rather a side effect of a major genetic process for mating IMO.

    What it means is that we are hard wired to mate some end up hard wired for the same sex.

    If you look at who ends up with whom you realize that mating is driven by huge mix-master. That is different from "studies" on the most attractive traits.

    As a footnote: how can Christians who don’t believe in Darwin use genetic studies to support their own arguments?

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  48. 48. Squeedle 10:59 pm 04/27/2011

    "Second, I can think of no dumber reason for doing or not doing something than what the Bible supposedly says."

    What is the point of this statement, besides just being insulting? It’s a terrible way to frame the issue.

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